I Think I Love My Wife Chris Rock

Based as it is on a total cynicism regarding human behaviour, Chris Rock’s stand-up makes a rather poor fit with the brightly lit romantic comedy genre. Thus his directorial debut manages to cancel itself out with a combination of bland and bitter.

Rock stars as bourgeois family man Richard Cooper, a husband who’s lost the spark in his marriage — not only does his wife, Brenda (Gina Torres), refuse to touch him in bed, he’s tired of domestic banality in general. But then he’s visited by sexy old friend Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington), who is exciting, brazen and unencumbered by domestic strings, and thus extremely tempting to any straying male. Does he have an exciting fling and jeopardise his marriage or does he resist temptation and sink further into his torpor?

The film is based on Eric Rohmer’s Chloe in the Afternoon, and while that film didn’t run any deeper than this movie it had a fleet-footed charm with which Rock simply can’t compete. On the one hand, he barely manages to suppress his fury, which doesn’t quite jibe with the genre being tapped. On the other, he commits totally to that genre, following every rule about ugly lighting and non-composition, as well as a general sense of innocuousness.

Had Rock altered the formula to accommodate his rages (and if he had any facility with the camera) this might have had some reason to live, but mostly his film has to slap itself every few minutes as a reminder of what the studio wants. And as unpleasant as that other movie might have been, anything’s preferable to the un-movie that all cheesy rom-coms are doomed to become. (Fox Searchlight)